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My Last Duchess. Robert Browning. My Last Duchess. What is the poem about?. The Duke is talking about his dead wife - the Duchess. The starting point is her portrait on the wall…. The poem is about how the Duke was made angry by some of the things his wife did. She “died.”.
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My Last Duchess Robert Browning
What is the poem about? The Duke is talking about his dead wife - the Duchess. The starting point is her portrait on the wall…
The poem is about how the Duke was made angry by some of the things his wife did. She “died.” Her portrait hangs on the wall.
The poem is a dramatic monologue. This means the poem is written in the “voice’ of a character rather than the voice of the poet. The character who is speaking is…
The Duke of Ferrara And he is speaking to his visitor… The count’s envoy.
The count’s envoy has been sent to discuss a dowry, as the Duke is looking for a new wife: the next duchess. While they are talking the conversation turns To the portrait of the Duke’s dead wife.
“That's my last Duchess painted on the wall, Looking as if she were alive. “
Behind a curtain Where the Duke can enjoy it by himself
“looking as if she were alive.” This suggests that in painting the portrait the painter did an excellent job. It’s also ironic when we learn more about her death.
“Frà Pandolf's hands worked busily a day,” Frà Pandolf was the painter of the portrait.
When the Duke draws back the curtain the envoy sees in the Duchess’expression: “The depth and passion of its earnest glance,”
We can see from the line below that the Count’s envoy has asked how “the glance” or “spot of joy” came to be there.” “so, not the first are you to turn and ask thus.”
The Duke explains what happened: “ Sir, 'twas not Her husband's presence only, called that spot Of joy into the Duchess' cheek:” It wasn’t just me, her husband, who brought pleasure to her face.
PerhapsFra Pandolf had paid her a compliment when painting the picture? ”…………………………………….. Paint Must never hope to reproduce the faint Half-flush that dies along her throat"
She probably thought the painter was being courteous. But she was”too easily impressed” And “her looks went everywhere”
“Sir, 'twas all one!” Everything was the same to her- of equal importance. “My favour at her breast.”
These things were all the same to her. “………………………………………all and each Would draw from her alike the approving speech, Or blush, at least.
………………………………………..Even had you skill In speech -- (which I have not) -- to make your will Quite clear to such an one, and say, "Just this Or that in you disgusts me; here you miss, Or there exceed the mark" -- and if she let Herself be lessoned so, nor plainly set Her wits to yours, forsooth, and made excuse, --E'en then would be some stooping, and I choose Never to stoop. Oh sir, she smiled, no doubt,
She thanked men, -- good! but thanked Somehow -- I know not how -- as if she ranked My gift of a nine-hundred-years-old name With anybody's gift. What do the dashes in the middle of the lines suggest?
“My gift of a nine-hundred-years-old name” What does this tell you about how the Duke Feels about his name?
The Duke considers telling his wife how she has offended him but this is difficult even if you were skilled with words. “…………..Even had you skill In speech -- (which I have not) --”
But to tell her “here you disgust me” or “exceed the mark.” involves stooping and “I choose never to stoop.”
Oh sir, she smiled, no doubt, Whene'er I passed her; but who passed without Much the same smile?
…………………………………….I gave commands; Then all smiles stopped together. There she stands As if alive.
The Count your master's known munificence Is ample warrant that no just pretence Of mine for dowry will be disallowed;
Though his fair daughter's self, as I avowed At starting, is my object.
Notice Neptune, though, Taming a sea-horse, thought a rarity, Which Claus of Innsbruck cast in bronze for me!
“The mad duke...cannot love without so possessing and destroying the identity of his wife that he literally kills her and lives with her dead substitute, a work of art."